Soccer is a low scoring game, which means that when a goal is scored it is time to celebrate. This includes the goalscorer, and the adrenaline and excitement often causes hilarious, bizarre and eccentric celebrations. Sometimes their celebration will be pre-planned and well choreographed, many players see it as the perfect excuse to show some skin, some show off their gymnastic skills, whilst there have also been many who do little more than flail their arms around like a lunatic. The goal celebration can sometimes overshadow the goal itself, and over the years there have been dozens of iconic celebrations.
12. Robbie Keane
Robbie Keane has proven himself as a skilled, determined and hard working player at every team he has arrived at. He has been a prolific scorer at top teams around the world, including Inter Milan, Leeds United, Spurs (twice), Liverpool, Celtic and now L.A. Galaxy. Having scored so many goals, Keane has had a fair amount of practice celebrating. Despite this, his trademark goal celebration is far from the greatest demonstration of gymnastic ability (particularly in comparison to the likes of LuaLua), but this only adds to the charm of his comical celebration. It is usually comprised of a cartwheel and forward roll, before finishing with pistol fingers. Keane has been a fan favorite at every team he has played for, and his trademark goal celebration is certainly a contributing factor to this (along with his scoring ability and work rate).
11. Peter Crouch (2006)
At a whopping 6’7″ and with a very skinny frame, Peter Crouch will always stand out from the crowd. This was never truer than in 2006, where he became famous for his cringe-inducing goal celebrations which had everyone back in England replicating them on dance floors up and down the country. After scoring against Hungary and Jamaica, Crouch performed the robot dance which looked more embarrassing than usual due to his size and frame. Having caused such a stir with his celebrations, Crouch retired the robot but would perform it once more in a 2009 match against Ukraine. Although many fans have been hoping for a return of this celebration, they were treated to a new celebration this season which saw Crouch mimic a bird. Fans eagerly await to see what the Stoke striker has lined up this season.
10. Fabrizio Ravanelli
Fabrizio Ravanelli, or “The White Feather,” dazzled crowds with his goal-scoring ability. This was particularly true when he arrived in England in 1996 at Middleborough, scoring a hat-trick on his league debut. On top of his white hair and ability to find the back of the net, Ravanelli also became a fan favorite for his famous and iconic goal celebration. After scoring, he would pull his shirt up and over his head whilst running around the pitch. This saw youngsters begin replicating this goal celebration at schools and in parks around the world, and it surely saw a few accidents and collisions occur. This goal celebration now warrants a yellow card due to the player (almost) removing their shirt and, understandably, The White Feather does not approve of this rule. Although it is no longer seen in the professional game, it remains one of the most famous celebrations of all time.
9. Tresor Lomana LuaLua
LuaLua’s talents clearly extended off the field, and the Congolese striker became more famous for his impressive goal celebration than for his goal-scoring abilities. Each time he found the back of the net, LuaLua would perform several back flips before finishing with a backward somersault. This made him a fan favorite at each club he arrived at, but the celebration was a cause for concern for some of his coaches. Whilst at Portsmouth, Harry Redknapp warned LuaLua not to perform his elaborate celebration as it was an injury risk and they needed his services, as they were locked in a fierce relegation fight. LuaLua did not heed the warning, and he would injure his foot whilst performing the celebration against Arsenal. Fortunately for LuaLua, Redknapp and everyone at Portsmouth, they managed to avoid the drop that season.
8. Robbie Fowler v Everton (1999)
The Liverpool legend simply known as “God” at Anfield had an eventful career and was famous for his cheeky personality. During his first stint at Liverpool, many Everton fans accused Fowler of being a drug abuser and taunted him throughout a Merseyside derby in 1999. In typical fashion, Fowler responded with two goals and after scoring his second he would perform perhaps the most shocking goal celebration of all time. Fowler immediately ran to the touchline, where he got on all fours and pretended to sniff the line to simulate cocaine use. The inflammatory celebration cost him £60,000 and he was suspended for four games. His manager, Gerard Houllier, would attempt to defend his striker by claiming that he was not mimicking drug taking and instead was pretending to eat grass, but this wasn’t fooling anyone and it was another amazing chapter in Fowler’s astonishing career.
7. Emmanuel Adebayor v Arsenal (2009)
Emmanuel Adebayor never seems to stray too far from the headlines and is somewhat of an enigma. This was proven in 2009 in a match against his former team Arsenal, where he would score the decisive goal to give Manchester City the win. When a player scores against their former team, they will usually refrain from celebrating out of respect for their ex-employers. This is clearly not Adebayor’s style, as he would sprint the full 90 yards of the pitch to the corner where the travelling Arsenal fans were before sliding on his knees and celebrating. The Arsenal fans were understandably livid, with many attempting to rush the pitch and pelting Adebayor with various items. The incredible and shocking celebration from the Togolese is just one of many wild incidents in his controversial, yet highly entertaining career.
6. Jimmy Bullard v Manchester City (2009)
Hull’s Jimmy Bullard is best remembered for this fantastic goal celebration which was pre-planned with his teammates. When Hull had faced Man City the season before, their performance was so dire that manager Phil Brown delivered his half-time speech on the pitch in front of the fans. A year later, Bullard would equalize by scoring from that exact spot, and he and his teammates would re-enact the moment much to the delight of the fans. After converting from 12 yards, the team sat in a circle around Bullard who wagged his finger at them and pretended to tell them off like school children. Phil Brown saw the funny side and would state “it was a fantastic celebration. Great comedy is about timing.” The celebration has gone on to become an iconic moment in Premier League history.
5. Paul Gascoigne v Scotland (Euro 1996)
One of England’s greatest talents and a player with a fun-loving, cheeky personality, Gazza is a much-loved character in England. He would score a phenomenal goal in Euro 1996 against Scotland, and he had a celebration to match. Many of the English press had called for Gazza to be dropped after he was photographed on a night out with Teddy Sheringham prior to the World Cup, where they were having drinks poured into their mouths sat in a dentist’s chair. He would re-enact this as his goal celebration, wheeling away before lying on the turf and having Sheringham squirt water into his mouth. The stunning goal and subsequent celebration epitomized Gascoigne, who is a player that has famously overindulged and had his struggles, but is much loved by England and the entire football world.
4. Eric Cantona v Sunderland (1996)
Eric Cantona had an incredible career at Old Trafford, and he became a United icon who was simply known as “The King.” Aside from a few high profile disciplinary issues, he was a remarkable player and one of the greats that the Premier League has seen. In 1996 in a game against Sunderland, Cantona scored a sublime chip from the edge of the box which seemed to hang in the air for an eternity, before kissing the post and rolling around the net. The goal sent Old Trafford into a frenzy, whilst the Frenchman nonchalantly slowly turned around and took in his surroundings, and then simply raised his arms into the air in recognition of the stunning goal that he had just scored. In 2012, the celebration won the Best Celebration in the Premier League 20 Seasons Awards, with the goal a contender for Best Goal.
3. Bebeto v Holland (1994)
Whilst this celebration is now not so special after being performed so much around the world, when it was first performed it was a brilliant moment and there is a reason that it is replicated so often. Brazilian striker Bebeto was the originator of the cradling arms celebration, and he performed it in the 1994 World Cup after scoring against Holland. The arm cradling motion was to celebrate the birth of his son, who had been born just three days earlier. He was joined in the celebration by his teammates in a touching moment. And if scoring a brilliant goal and having a son wasn’t enough, Brazil would go all the way and win the World Cup that year too. His son is now 21 years old and a professional footballer, on loan at Estoril from Flamengo, and he has also made four U-20 appearances for Brazil.
2. Roger Milla (1990 World Cup)
Cameroon’s Roger Milla was 38 years old in the 1990 World Cup, and one of the first African players to become a major international star. In addition to netting four goals in the competition and guiding his team the quarter-finals (becoming the first African team to reach this stage); Milla became a household name and international star thanks to his brilliant trademark goal routine. Each time Milla found the back of the net, he would run to the corner flag where he would perform a hip wiggling dance with the flag, much to the amusement of the fans and his teammates. His fun loving and inventive goal celebrations inspired an entire generation of players to come up with similar goal celebration routines (including the likes of Keane and LuaLua), and he was a terrific character for the game of football.
1. Marco Tardelli v West Germany (1982 World Cup Final)
The image of Italy’s midfielder Marco Tardelli celebrating a decisive goal in the 1982 World Cup Final against Germany has become one of the most iconic images in all of sports, and will still send goose bumps down the spines of many fans (aside from German fans). Tardelli made the score 2-0 with an excellent left-footed shot from outside the box, and he would then run in the direction of the Italy bench with tears in his eyes, fists clenched and screaming “Gol! Gol!” Italy would later add a third goal to cement the win. It was a passionate celebration and a testament as to just how important the World Cup is to players, coaches and fans alike. The celebration became known as the “Tardelli cry,” and the goal and celebration helped to cement his legacy as one of Italy’s greatest players of all time.